A TEENAGER is to receive an award from the First Minister after saving three pet dogs as fire threatened to destroy a family home.
Stuart Watson, 15, who recently had an operation to remove a tumour, was collecting sponsorship money for Cancer Research near his home in Livingston when he heard a smoke alarm from one of the houses and dialled 999.
The brave youngster, who was 13 at the time, peered through the letterbox to smell smoke, but he did not immediately realise that three Yorkshire terriers were trapped inside.
He said: “I could smell the smoke. I thought maybe it was coming in the house from a barbecue, setting off the alarm.
“But I looked over the fence and there was no barbecue and called the fire brigade. I said, ‘There’s a fire alarm going off but there’s nobody in’. They thought it was a prank call.
“I saw the dogs through the window. They jumped up on the sill and they were barking furiously.”
He called firefighters a second time and they arrived in time to save the animals and stop the fire spreading.
Stuart, who has learning difficulties, is partially deaf and has dyslexia, said: “I wanted the house to be safe and I wanted the dogs to be safe.”
His quick thinking has already been recognised with a letter of commendation from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and The Society for the Protection of Life from Fire.
And now he has won the First Minister’s Brave@Heart award, established to recognise outstanding contributions from Scotland’s emergency services and members of the public who go the extra mile to save others.
The teenager will be invited to a reception in October at Edinburgh Castle to meet Nicola Sturgeon and other recipients.
Proud mother Clair praised her son for his compassion, adding: “Stuart has an awful lot of special needs and is on the autistic spectrum. When something happens he takes it as if it’s happening to him. He thinks ‘What if that was me?’ He’s a complete hero.”
The owner of the property has since gratefully handed Clair’s children their sponsor money and given them a small reward.
Stuart, from Ladywell, had been going door to door with a sponsor sheet along with twin Kevin, younger brother Dylan and sister Jamie-Lee when he noticed the smoke.
Station manager Martyn Brandrick, commanding officer at Livingston, said: “Stuart’s quick thinking that day meant three family pets were saved and the fire was confined to the kitchen.
“While our crews were at the scene the owner’s daughter returned because her dad had remembered leaving a pot on the cooker.
“She was very concerned for the pets’ welfare. It’s not hard to imagine that if Stuart hadn’t raised the alarm then she may have considered trying to reach the dogs, which would obviously have put her at risk.”